The Austin area is one of the fastest-growing large metros in the country, and home prices are skyrocketing in tandem. When buyers are looking at an asking price of almost $600,000 for of a Downtown loft, the home search can become almost comically overwhelming.
That situation becomes more intense when you’re not sure what kind of home you want—condo, townhome, detached condo, single-family?—or what neighborhood you should (or can afford to) live in.
To help prospective buyers dive in during 2020 and beyond, we’ve provided a rundown of applications and websites (and websites with applications) worth checking out to score that perfect—or at least habitable—place. Some is deliberately local, others are national in scope but have functions that quickly help buyers zero in on the Austin area. Just so no one feels left out, we threw in a local rental app, too.
Zooming in on Austin: Local, not yokels
Realty Austin is one of the largest and most successful brokerages in the city. It opened in 2004, and its robust website reflects a deep knowledge of the city, with rundowns on neighborhoods, stats, and information about city sights and events. It helps buyers and sellers with all kinds of homes at all prices, in all areas of the region. Its extra touches, such as open-house maps, and, best of all, its pocket listings—homes not on the MLS—make it a good place to search beyond the regular local fare and learn a lot about buying a home here, whether you’re looking now or just curious.
On the go: Realty Austin has apps for iPhones and Androids.
Launched in 2007, Austin Real Estate focuses on homes in the city and surrounding communities. You can search its site by area, and its community pages have information about neighborhoods and prices in those areas. It offers MLS searches as well as its own private listings on its clean, easy to use search engine.
On the go: Austin Real Estate has an iOS app.
Home City is part of the national Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate network, but the link above takes you directly to a search focused on its Austin and Central Texas properties (which you can further hone down in straightforward fashion). You can search by neighborhood, find their pocket (off MLS) listings, and drill into their information about local schools, which seems to be a focus for the site and its app.
On the go: Home City has apps for iPhones and Androids.
Boutique and hyperlocal
Gottesman is a well-established, longtime local brokerage that specializes in luxury, often historic properties but also lists less-expensive homes that are just as impressive as well as a few rentals. You can search the MLS through its site, but the agency’s listings, including private listings, offer a respite from other sites’ clutter and turn up some amazing homes. The site also has in-depth information about home and city resources.
On the go: Gottesman has an iOS app
Moreland’s site isn’t quite as lush and pretty as Gottesman’s, but it gets the job done in sorting out special and luxury properties as well as offering some fine nonluxury real estate and rentals, some of them listed exclusively with Moreland. There doesn’t seem to be an app for the whole site, but their marquee agents, such as Cord Shiflet and Greg Walling, have their own.
Looking for a rental?
We would be remiss if we didn’t make note of Austin-grown app Sunroom, brought to you by the people who created Favor. Unlike traditional rental sites or the wild west of Craigslist, Sunroom is a sort of all-in-one app. They can then procure a real-estate agent to show them what they’re interested in via the app, provides all the pertinent leasing information about specific properties—application fees, deposits, and the like—in one place. Prospective tenants can apply and proceed with the entire process through the app and schedule tours of the properties they’re interested in more or less on demand via the app as well. The aim is to offer a streamlined service where the tenant can do almost everything (sans seeing their potential home and moving in) in the same place (their phone or laptop).
Founded in 2011, Seattle-based Zillow is one of the oldest online home listings sites. Many sites have since have drawn from its formula, which is quick and to the point—as long as you use its filters, which can narrow down myriad choices to a level home-hunters can handle. The site also provides several calculators for mortgages and other financials; and a search engine for finding local agents.
On the go: Zillow has apps for iPhones and Androids.
A Zillow-owned property, Trulia is similar to its parent site, but its filters allow prospective buyers to quickly sift their searches down to certain neighborhoods, housing types, price points, and so on.
Almost Google-like in its simplicity—a single search box in the middle of the page greets users—Estately is also prized for its regular updating. The Seattle-based company refreshes its listings pretty much hourly, and brokers do not pay to list on the site, meaning it can be more comprehensive than its competitors. The usual filters are there too—location, neighborhood, desired amenities—and Estately can help schedule tours of properties (you’ll see that function on the right side of a listing).
On the go: Estately has apps for iPhone and Android apps.